Posted: 30.03.20 at 21:47 by Nick Hudson
A CHURCH hall was turned into a mobile meals-on-wheels food station today as the isolated of Atherstone and surrounding villages were brought a “ton” of joy wrapped in takeaway tin foil cartons.
Atherstone’s MP Craig Tracey led the line of volunteer drivers delivering a traditional two-course meal to 100 “needy” North Warwickshire folk – cut off by the impact of coronavirus.
St Nicholas Church hall in Baddesley Ensor was the command centre for the launch of a ‘combined services’ operation that was masterminded by Atherstone Coffee Shop owner Angie Spencer, her business partner Stephen Reay and the village social club.
Food, donated by local sources, was cooked in the church hall kitchen.
From early morning the menu – comprising a choice of beef stew and dumplings or fish pie for mains and bread and butter pudding or clotted cream rice pudding for afters – was prepared and around 1.30pm the first wave of the meals-on-wheels service was loaded in vehicles and despatched.
The military-style operation was Atherstone town councillor Spencer’s answer to the vulnerable, elderly and those left in total isolation in the community struggling to deal with the knock-on effects of Covid-19.
Cllr Spencer told Nub News providing the twice-weekly service would normally be taken for granted but these are “unprecedented” times where communities are now living under Government direction – placed under on an “emergency footing” with a different set of rules for “at least six months”.
So the planning of the service – approved by North Warwickshire Borough Council – had had to pass stringent safety tests more associated with a wartime setting.
Social distancing rules were applied at the church for the team of volunteers and on the doorsteps of the recipients’ homes.
As the volunteers filed out of the church hall double doors, Cllr Spencer beamed: “We did it – 100 meals.”
Nub News watched Baddesley Social Club chairman Rob Jakes take out the first batch of meals, closely followed by the North Warwickshire MP.
Mr Tracey’s first drop-off was a house in Grendon. He kept his social distance as one pensioner opened the door while the other “waved” his thanks for the special delivery from the lounge window.
Then Mr Tracey was off on his travels to all-points north, south, east and west around the borough.
The meal recipients were asked to make a voluntary contribution to help with the cost of the ingredients for the next meals-on-wheels day this Friday.
Through Nub News, Cllr Spencer, who is chairman of the HAT Community Café at St Mary’s Church, Atherstone, has asked for anyone who is a need of a two-course meal – or knows of someone who is vulnerable, elderly or in self-isolation and cannot get a hot meal – to call her on 07974 302910.
Businesses in Atherstone and North Warwickshire have been given new guidance for setting up food delivery and takeaway services in response to the coronavirus lockdown.
With Government restrictions placed on pubs, restaurants and cafes, many premises are considering diversifying to provide food from their existing menus or new dishes for delivery or takeaway.
It is hoped the guidance from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health will help firms to trade safely, adhere to Government advice and restrictions, and keep their staff and customers safe.
The guidance points out that the current scientific advice is that Covid-19 is "very unlikely" to be spread by food.
It says the virus is thought to survive on hard surfaces for up to three days "which is why cleaning and disinfection routines throughout the customer journey are critical to minimise its spread".
The guidance, which points out the importance of social distancing, adds: "You must put in place a process, at the point of ordering, to establish whether a customer is self-isolating or ill.
"The process should include how this information is communicated to drivers and/or riders to minimise the risk to them of Covid-19 transmission."
Food businesses considering providing temporary delivery provision should contact North Warwickshire Borough Council which offers the latest environmental health guidelines on the whole process including safety in preparation and allergy issues.
To find out more click here.